The National Heritage Board answers back!

In Dagens Nyheter and in K-blogg the head of the National Heritage Board (NHB), Inger Liljeqvist,  gives NHB’s answer to the debate article published a few days ago in the same paper regarding runestones (my earlier comments are here) under the headline ” It is not our task to do research regarding the rune stones“.

I’ll summarize her answer quite shortly:

It is the opinion of the NHB that the universities and collages are better equipped to do research on rune stones. It is no longer the NHB’s roll to do research but to supply information, to administrate and to make the cultural heritage more accessible.

The NHB have collected a great amount of data concerning runes and runic inscriptions, information that today is accessible through the internet. To collect information shall not be an end in itself, the data becomes valuable first when it is in use.

The NHB have not abandoned the rune stones and we won’t in future either, today the responsibility of rune stone care is at the county administrative boards.

The NHB has been a “learned institution” in the past but today we are a national authority with new tasks and commissions. One of our more important activities of today is to make the cultural heritage accessible and pressing for each and every one. We focus on knowledge services, consultations and know how.

We will still be an institution that has a great knowledge concerning our traditional cultural heritage as well as our modern cultural heritage.

A few personal notes and thoughts on the matter:

Though the HNB’s debate answer concerns rune stones and HNB’s roll in the handling of these I do believe that it concerns more. The NHB needs to rebuild its identity. In some ways they made great leaps forward, as in their opening of databases for the public.

What I feel is a big problem is the fact that it seems like the NHB is not interested in cultural heritage as a science but more so as in something that can be fun and fuzzy – something harmless.

The main goal of NHB should, according to me, be long term solutions for the future;

  • In what way can we preserve out national heritage for the future?
  • In what way is the national heritage important and for whom?
  • Why do we need to protect the national heritage?
  • What is national heritage?
  • How do we incorporate the National Heritage in todays and tomorrows societies?

  • etc…

To be able to work with questions like these it is important that the NHB has the right tools and the correct data. It might be true that the research should be done at our Universities, but they do not do research for the NHB, the research they do don’t necessarily have anything to do with the kind of data the NHB needs. Another big problem is the fact that Universities in Sweden today doesn’t have money to do much humanistic research at all. If the NHB are to relay on research from the Universities in the future, then they have to start up funds to employ researchers to do research for them at the Universities, which could be one way to strengthen humanistic research in Sweden.

As I wrote earlier I feel that it is great that the NHB is making their databases accessible to the public and it is true that the NHB do have lots and lots of knowledge in their databases, but it is also true that knowledge constantly needs to be upgraded or it will be outdated. Without research there is a risk that the NHB aren’t getting the information it needs to meet the demands of tomorrow. If, like the NHB writes, the future goals of NHB is, among other things, to focus on knowledge services, consultations and know how; how can this be done without research and a constant renewal of knowledge?

This said I do believe, and so do others ( see Åsa M Larssons blog (in swedish); Ting och tankar) that it is good that the NHB is becoming a national authority that are more inclined to work with control functions and to be the organizer of or to fund different projects instead of as in the past being in competition with museums and other agents within the sphere of cultural heritage.

As the late singer/songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk once sang (Ballad in the dust):
Oh citizen, hear me singin’ a-sittin’ the dust.
It’s the wrong time for music but i feel like i must.
I’m filled up with sadness, I’m in a dirty mood.
Tomorrow it might be better but it never be good.

//Magnus Reuterdahl

Ps. If anyone involved thinks that I have misread or misinterpreted something in the quotations or summaries pleas contact me so I can correct it. Ds.

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About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

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